You can just imagine Julia Webb checking off her laundry list of must-pack running items when she departed her Portland, Ore., home Friday morning. The wife of American mile record holder Alan Webb, Julia was bound for Sunday’s Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon, in search of a world record.
Running shoes. Check. Socks and sports bra. Check. Singlet. Check.
Final necessities in her world-record chase: stroller, air pump for stroller tires and 9-month-old daughter, Paula.
An 11-time All-American at Wisconsin-Lacrosse and former Division III steeplechase national champion, Julia, now 33, will try to break the Guinness World Record for fastest half marathon by a woman while pushing a stroller Sunday.
The world record is 1 hour, 27 minutes, 34 seconds (pending verification), set by Lindsy James just last month.
Sunday’s weather forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms. And it should be toasty. (Predicted high: 88). And breezy: (Winds up to 18 mph).
Webb, though, is undaunted.
“I’m hoping to run under 1:25,” she said in a phone interview while driving to the airport Friday morning. “I just need to get out there and not have a flat tire. You watch triathlons (Alan’s a triathlete now), if people’s tires go out, they’re done.”
While Alan has taken to the swim-bike-run, Julia is pulling off the mother juggling act. She has two daughters, Joanie, 4, and 9-month-old Paula. She’s a Nike+ run coach and still trains hard. With a 9:55.36 personal best in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Julia was hoping to qualify for this summer‘s Olympic Trials in her specialty.
But she missed a big chunk of training April and didn’t qualify.
Undaunted, she knew about the Guinness World Record for a half marathon while pushing a stroller and said to herself, “Why not go after it?”
In fact, this won’t be Webb’s first go at a pushing-a-stroller Guinness World Record. In October 2014, Webb shattered the women’s 10K record while pushing a stroller by nearly five minutes, clocking 38 minutes, 15 seconds, a 6:09 mile pace.
In a fascinating twist, Julia didn’t push Joanie in that race. Alan took her with him to visit his family in Virginia, and Julia borrowed a friend’s child.
“Rent-a-baby,” she calls it.
It helped that the friend’s baby was 11 pounds lighter than Joanie.
“I took so much crap for that,” she said.
Webb submitted documentation for the record, but four months later, while waiting for the record to be verified, Webb’s mark was broken. Maggie Yount of Portola Valley, Calif., covered a 10K while pushing a baby in 37:29. (Webb also ran 38:16 at the Butte to Butte 10K on July 4 in Eugene, finishing 18th overall among women while averaging 6:10 mile pace.)
So now Webb hopes to erase the half marathon stroller record.
“It’s not like a real road record,” she said. “I know there are people who could beat me. You hand Shalane Flanagan a stroller and she beats me by six minutes.”
But someone must hold the world record for fastest half marathon while pushing a stroller.
“This is a fun thing,” Webb said. “Why not go after it?”